Methodists/District Superintendent Authority
Dear Rev. Olewiler - Last year the Committee on Buildings and Locations came to our church to request several things we had been delinquent on in previous years due to being a small church and not necessarily being told these were needed. They stated we had not paid 100% of ministry shares in the last few years, although we knew we had and offered to show evidence of doing so. As a result of their ultimatums, the church came together and met every requirement asked for. As we were not given a pastor after our last one left, but told to use lay servants, we found four wonderful lay servants - two from an adjoining district - who started preaching at our church and decided to join our church as members. Immediately, the D.S. told us we could no longer use these lay servants, even though they were current on their certification and were starting classes in our district. She had no other reason than she was not approving them. Is there anything in the discipline that 1) gives her that authority and 2)Addresses the grievance procedure if a D.S. is misusing her authority.
Anything you can let us know is appreciated - this has baffled our congregation as well as seemed very hurtful to these two lay servants who have been nothing but respectful and giving to our church. When we have brought these concerns to her attention, she has fallen back on the fact she has the final say but does not give any good reason as to why she is being so disrespectful to these two wonderful Christians.
Since the United Methodist Church uses appointed, not called, pastors, the Bishop, working through the Cabinet of District Superintendents, has final authority to send pastoral leadership to the church. I suspect that your DS is saying that "I did not appoint these Lay Servants to be your pastoral leaders, and thus they cannot serve as such."
Your District should have a Committee on the Superintendency, which operates as a "PPR" committee for the District. I would contact their chairperson with your concerns. Also, District Superintendents hold their positions by appointment by the bishop. If you wish to pursue a further grievance, you can contact the Bishop with your story.